For anyone thinking about having cosmetic surgery, the question of how to find the best physician to perform that procedure naturally arises. This can be daunting for many patients, but it needn’t be. Choosing the right surgeon requires a combination of deliberate research, asking the right questions, and personal judgment.
The following advice, gleaned from having practiced plastic surgery myself for nearly 30 years, should help you as you do your research.
Determine what you want to change. For most patients, this is the easy part—chances are you have a very good idea of what you would like to improve about your appearance. It’s also the first step in finding the right surgeon, because the procedures you are considering are going to affect whom you choose. Remember, you want to find the best surgeon to help you meet your goals.
Make sure cosmetic surgery is the focus of your surgeon’s practice. A surgeon who does primarily reconstructive procedures and only occasionally performs aesthetic surgery may not be the best choice, regardless of board certification or speciality training.
Choose a surgeon who is board certified in plastic surgery. While any licensed physician can legally perform cosmetic surgery, you can be sure that someone who is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery has at least two years of specific plastic surgery training and has passed rigorous exams to demonstrate his or her knowledge and skill in the field.
Look for a “super-specialist.” This is someone who concentrates on specific cosmetic procedures such as rhinoplasty, breast enhancement, or liposuction. A super-specialist is not only likely to have more experience performing the procedure you’re considering, but will also be familiar with the best techniques to address the needs of a variety of patients.
Ask some key questions at your consultation. This is a good way to gain insight into how well-tuned a surgeon is into your needs as a patient. Ask, “If your wife or daughter had my same concerns, what procedure would you perform?” Be sure that the procedure you are considering is actually what you want, and not what a physician wants you to have. Other important questions to ask: how many years has the doctor been in practice? How many procedures has he or she performed?
Don’t underestimate the value of “word of mouth.” What other patients say tells a lot about that doctor’s talent. We encourage our patients to talk to people they trust and ask who they recommend. A busy surgeon with good outcomes will be known by word of mouth.
Look at that surgeon’s before & after pictures. As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Most confident plastic surgeons have a significant portfolio of cases that are testaments to their work. Be sure to spend time reviewing before & after photos of those who had the procedure you are considering. A facelift surgeon should be able to show you many before & after faces of patients.
Take as much time as you need to make your decision. Occasionally it may be necessary to interview several doctors to find someone who has the qualifications, experience, and aesthetic vision that matches your needs. But don’t be tempted to rush this process. You should feel completely confident in your choice. You should generally like your doctor and feel like he or she is listening to your requests. It’s good to choose a busy surgeon—that signals a reputable surgeon—but you shouldn’t feel like you are component on an assembly line, and you should be able to reach the surgeon easily.
If you’re researching the cosmetic surgery process for yourself or a loved one, I’d be glad to answer any questions you have about choosing a surgeon at a consultation. Please contact our office to set up your appointment.